The Columbus Blue Jackets will return home for Game 3 of their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the hole two games and now without the services of Matt Calvert.
The Department of Player Safety has suspended Calvert for one game (Game 3 in the series) after he cross-checked Tom Kuhnhackl at the end of Game 2.
There are some key points of emphasis Player Safety makes in the explanation video.
First: the timing. The video notes the game is within the final minute and completely out of reach with the Penguins leading, 4-1.
Second: the location. The cross-check was on Kuhnhackl’s ARM, not head/neck. (FOR THE LOVE OF GORD, STOP SAYING IT WAS A HEAD SHOT. HERE’S A PICTURE.)
From the video:
“Calvert is bumped by Penguins forward Carter Rowney. As the puck bounces to a Blue Jackets defenseman, Calvert turns, sees Kuhnhackl, and delivers a cross-check directly to Kuhnhackl’s arm. With his stick broken on impact, Calvert turns and delivers a check to Kuhnhackl, knocking him to the ice.
Third: on-ice punishment. Calvert received a two-minute penalty for cross-checking after the incident. Normally that would be it, but Player Safety believed there was more malice than aggravation in Calvert’s actions.
“Though always illegal, cross-checking is a fairly common infraction that almost always is sufficiently penalized by the on-ice officials. However, in this case, several factors combine to elevate this play to merit supplemental discipline.
“This is not a hockey play, in the sense that it has nothing to do with pursuit of the puck or establishing body position. And while it is only delivered to the arm, it is forceful and is followed up with a body check on the vulnerable Kuhnhackl.
“Finally, and most importantly, we believe that this play falls into the category of “message sending”. Late in the game with the score out of reach, Calvert delivers this blow to an opponent that he will be facing again in the next game. While we understand that frustration often occurs at the end of a game, dangerous or retaliatory plays delivered in the closing minutes of a playoff game will be viewed in context and punished accordingly.”
Kuhnhackl was not injured on the play. If he was, it would have only ADDED to the length of suspension.
Prior to the announcing of the suspension, John Tortorella spoke about Calvert.
From Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch: “It’s important … to play between the whistles. The other stuff doesn’t help us. It’s not the way the game is played anymore,” said Tortorella. “Having said that, these guys are competitive, and it’s an emotional game. Sometimes you just kinda lose yourself a little bit.”
The forward had 10 goals, 15 points in the regular season. Three of his 10 goals scored were short-handed. Calvert scored the Blue Jackets’ only goal in the team’s Game 1 loss.
It remains to be seen if Calvert’s suspension will add to the struggle of the Blue Jackets. The Penguins have dominated the series thus far. Perhaps going home will help snap Columbus out of their funk, and they’ll be able to get a win without Calvert.